Natural Treatment Options for Canine Diabetes
Having your dog diagnosed with diabetes can be a bit frightening. You may be asking yourself, Can my dog still have an enjoyable life? What if I can't afford treatment? Will I have to euthanize my dog? In the majority of cases, dogs with diabetes can live long and happy lives. There are many treatment options, some more expensive than others. If you worry about paying for treatment, consider some of the following natural treatment options for canine diabetes.
Most canine diabetes cases are caused indirectly by the dog being overweight or obese. Excess fat can cause insulin desensitization in certain cells, including muscle and liver cells. Insulin sensitivity in these cells can often be restored simply by losing weight. In addition to dietary changes, dogs need regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight. Rarely is there a dog who doesn't love to play, so be sure to get outside and get that doggy heart rate up.
The Diabetic Diet
Dogs with diabetes need regulated blood sugar. Foods that are high in sugar (most moist foods) or highly processed (most dog treats) cause glucose levels to rise too quickly for diabetic dogs. When purchasing a dog food for your diabetic pet, look for foods with higher protein and fiber content. These foods take longer to digest, allowing glucose levels to rise gradually. To maintain constant and proper glucose levels it is also important to divide your dog's meal into two portions and serve them at two different times of the day. Diabetic dog foods can sometimes be undesirable for a dog. Try adding a low-sodium, low-fat chicken broth to these dry foods. This can provide a little extra flavor to keep meals interesting. You can also substitute healthy treats for traditional high-fat, sugary dog treats. Popcorn (without butter and salt) can be a fun and delicious treat for diabetic dogs.
Herbs and Minerals for Canine Diabetes
Instead of buying costly insulin injections, some canine diabetes cases can be controlled with the supplementation of herbs and minerals in addition to diet and exercise. The following herbs have been shown to either increase insulin production, cause insulin to be more effective, or help with the fatigue and high blood pressure associated with diabetes:
- Astragalus membranaceus
- Galega officinalis
- Olive leaves
- Stinging nettles
- Vaccinium myrtilus (Bilberry)
Alternative Canine Diabetes Treatments
Other methods for controlling canine diabetes focus on regulating blood glucose through stress reduction. Stress, often referred to as the fight-or-flight response, causes certain hormones to be released, which in turn cause the release of glucose into the bloodstream. Dogs with diabetes have an impaired ability to deal with this excess glucose, contributing to the progression of diabetes. Pet stress can be reduced through massage, an example of which is the T-Touch technique. T-Touch techniques involve applying constant pressure while stroking an animal in different patterns. This touching can be deeply calming as a dog focuses on the sensations it feels. Breathing is regulated, blood pressure is lowered, and the production of stress hormones ceases. Consider these natural and safe options when deciding on a treatment for your diabetic dog.
Photo Credit: Tambako the Jaguar